Baseball/softball, cricket (T20), flag football, lacrosse (sixes) and squash are the five sports submitted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s Executive Board (EB) to the upcoming IOC Session as additional sports for the Olympic Games Los Angeles 2028 (LA28). These additional sports were proposed by the LA28 Organising Committee, for its edition of the Games only, and were reviewed by the Olympic Programme Commission (OPC) before being put forward to the EB.
For baseball/softball, cricket and lacrosse it would be a return to the Olympic Games, while flag football and squash would be making their Olympic debut in LA.
“The choice of these five new sports is in line with the American sports culture and will showcase iconic American sports to the world, while bringing international sports to the United States. These sports will make the Olympic Games LA28 unique,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. “Their inclusion will allow the Olympic Movement to engage with new athlete and fan communities in the US and globally.”
This selection of sports is the result of a thorough process and analysis based on evaluation criteria set out before the process began, including gender equality. It considered the utilisation of existing facilities, involving a wide range of sports communities both in the United States and globally, and incorporating some of the most popular sports in the United States and across the globe.
Baseball and softball
Baseball and softball have been part of the programme at several editions of the Olympic Games, most recently at Tokyo 2020. They are among some of the most iconic American sports, while four continents are represented in the world ranking top 10. The recent 2023 World Baseball Classic also set a tournament attendance record, with over 1 million spectators. Baseball and softball both have significant popularity among young people in the United States: baseball has the second highest domestic youth participation, with approximately 2.2 million young participants (aged 13-17), whilst softball features in the top five most popular high school sports for girls in the country.
Part of the Olympic Games programme at Paris 1900, cricket has more than 2.5 billion fans worldwide and represents an invaluable opportunity to engage with new countries and communities, including the growing Indian community in the US. Cricket brings a vast social media following, the men’s 2024 Cricket T20 World Cup will be hosted in the USA, and a new major professional league, Major League Cricket, was recently launched in the USA. T20 – with a men’s and a women’s tournament – is the format that would be played at LA28.
American football is the most popular sport in the US, and flag football, which would be making its Olympic debut at LA28, is growing fast both domestically and internationally. More children aged 6-12 play flag football than tackle football in the US and, at the elite level, there are approximately 20 million flag football players across over 100 countries, with gender-balanced athlete participation.
Lacrosse was created by the Indigenous Peoples of North America and started to spread internationally in the 19th century, initially to Great Britain and Australia. Its potential inclusion on the LA28 sports programme (with the sixes format) would be its third appearance at the Olympic Games, after Saint Louis 1904 and London 1908. Its presence at LA28 would provide a unique opportunity to connect its North American heritage with its growing youth appeal. Lacrosse is experiencing tremendous development both in the US and globally, with four continents represented in the world ranking top 10.
Squash (singles) would be making its Olympic debut at LA28. It is already included in eight other multi-sport events, with four continents represented in the world ranking top 10. The sport has enjoyed spectacular growth over the last few years, especially among young people, with an 87 per cent increase in squash participation between 2015 and 2019 in the United States.
Boxing, modern pentathlon and weightlifting
The IOC EB also reviewed the status of three sports which were not part of the initial sports programme (boxing, modern pentathlon and weightlifting) following the decision by the IOC Session in February 2022 to approve the inclusion of 28 sports on the initial sports programme of the Olympic Games LA28.
The IOC EB recommendation at the time did not propose the inclusion of boxing, modern pentathlon and weightlifting, but rather provided a pathway for the potential inclusion of these three sports to allow the necessary time for the relevant International Federations (IFs) to address their respective individual circumstances and the criteria set by the IOC EB for inclusion.
Today, the IOC EB has taken the following decisions:
- Boxing: Following the IOC Session’s decision to withdraw the recognition of the International Boxing Association (IBA), the IOC has not recognised another governing body for Olympic boxing. Therefore, any decision regarding the inclusion of boxing on the LA28 sports programme is put on hold.
- Modern pentathlon: The IOC EB recommends its inclusion on the LA28 sports programme, acknowledging the replacement of horse riding with obstacle racing and the optimisation work conducted by the International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM) to reduce costs and complexity. The IOC EB noted that it is essential for the UIPM to continue to implement the necessary changes in governance and modernise as an organisation. Without the replacement of horse riding with obstacle racing, the sport would not have been included in the programme.
- Weightlifting: The IOC EB recommends its inclusion on the LA28 sports programme following the decision by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) to delegate its anti-doping management to the International Testing Agency (ITA) and its sanctioning to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) at least until the end of 2028. The effectiveness of the anti-doping programmes for the Paris 2024 Olympic qualification and Olympic competition will continue to be closely monitored by the IOC, as will the implementation of the governance and cultural changes adopted by the IWF.
LA28 discipline programme
The LA28 discipline programme has been finalised by the IOC EB and will not require any approval by the IOC Session.
Like the other decisions, it was based on the recommendations of the OPC. The OPC undertook a full review in the context of the Los Angeles 2028 programme principles approved by the IOC EB in April 2022, reflecting the Olympic Charter, the recommendations of Olympic Agenda 2020+5, and both the IOC’s and LA28’s vision for the Games.
Overall, the discipline review highlighted various opportunities that exist for the IOC, LA28 and the IFs to work together to reduce the cost and complexity of the sports programme at the Games.
Following a holistic review of all existing and new disciplines proposed by the respective IFs with sports on the LA28 programme, only one change has been made to the discipline programme compared to Paris 2024, with beach sprint rowing, a format of the coastal rowing discipline, included on the Olympic programme for the first time. It will replace the lightweight double sculls (men 2x and women 2x) events. The inclusion of beach sprint rowing is the outcome of a decade-long development of coastal rowing with the active support of rowing communities across the world. The new discipline will share an existing Games venue, to be determined, with another sport.
A critical consideration in the discipline review was maximising venue-sharing opportunities and leveraging existing, world-class venues and infrastructure in LA and the US. This will be reflected in the LA28 venue master plan.
The programme of events and athlete quotas will be finalised after Paris 2024. The OPC will now work on ensuring that the final athlete quota numbers for the Olympic Games LA28 remain reasonable and below the overall quota for Tokyo 2020.